‘Axanar’ Lawsuit Update, Proposed Fan Film Guidelines

In an unexpected turn of events, Star Trek Beyond producer J.J. Abrams and director Justin Lin announced during a fan event on May 20 that Paramount will end their lawsuit against fan film studio Axanar Productions.

The studio and its head, Alec Peters, were sued by Paramount late last year for violating Star Trek intellectual copyright laws while filming the studio’s fan films, Prelude to Axanar and its sequel, Axanar.

“[The lawsuit] was not an appropriate way to deal with fans,” said Abrams at the event. “The fans should be celebrating this thing. We all, fans of Star Trek, are part of this world.”

In their motion for dismissal filed on March 28, Peters and his team claimed that Axanar and its prequel contained, among other things, elements not protected by copyright, and that the allegations made by CBS/Paramount aren’t specific enough. Also, because Axanar has not been released yet, an attempt to halt production would be considered censorship. The motion was not successful.

In light of the settlement, CBS and Paramount are creating guidelines for fan film productions to follow. The specific guidelines have not been announced yet.

Peters has reportedly reached out to other fan productions for their support of guidelines he wants Paramount and CBS to accept. These guidelines, among others things, include a marketing disclaimer in each piece of fan media; the rule that productions cannot sell Star Trek merchandise; and that fan productions cannot use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other crowdfunding platforms. The full list of the proposed guidelines provided by Axamonitor below.

Proposed Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines

  1. There must be the following disclaimer at the end of each episode and in all promotional and marketing materials, on all fan production websites:

    Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan made film intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted.

  2. Fan productions may not sell, or give away as perks, any item with a Star Trek mark, logos or character, including, but not limited to, the words “Star Trek,” the Enterprise insignia chevron, images of the U.S.S. Enterprise, or any Star Trek trademark.
  3. Fan Productions may not use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other commercial crowdfunding platform to raise money.
  4. Fan productions may take donations, but all donations must go to the production of the fan film and may not be used to pay any of the principals.
  5. Fan Productions may pay professional cast and crew for their time working on the production.
  6. If a production uses a SAG member, it must become a SAG New Media Signatory.
  7. Finished fan films may be no longer than 50 minutes in length, the approximate duration of TOS episodes.
  8. Fan film makers give to CBS an unlimited, unrestricted license to use their films, or any portion thereof, in any format CBS should deem appropriate.

Axanar earned more than $630,000 from about 8,500 backers in its Kickstarter campaign last year, with an additional $574,000 raised from Indiegogo. The film includes Star Trek alumni J.G. Hertzler, Tony Todd and Gary Graham, along with Richard Hatch, Kate Vernon, and Peters himself.

Stay tuned to TrekNews.net for updates on the settlement.

Kyle Hadyniak

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At 22 years old, Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan. A graduate student at the University of Maine, Kyle spends his time either doing school work, playing music, reading history, or studying a replica of the Enterprise-E he has above his desk.

36 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • j4m3S

    The following Fan Film and Audio Dramas have said they either want nothing to do with the “Proposed Guidelines” as they stand with CBS and Paramount in the fact it is their IP to do with as they so please or! They have had nothing to do with these said Guidelines and do NOT support Alec or Axanar.

    Star Trek: Continues,

    New Voyages,

    Star Trek Phoenix (statement pending Next Week!) – but initially out right REJECTED!,

    Starship Intrepid,

    Starship Valiant,

    Starbase Studios,

    Star Trek: Renegades,

    Star Trek Potemkin,

    Lexington Adventures,

    Melbourne,

    Project NCC – 1703,

    Star Trek: Excelsior,

    Starship Ajax,

    Ryan Husk – Various Fan Films and Rep of Sorts for Renegades.

    The only one thus far to agree with Alec Peters / Axanar’ proposal is

    Star Trek Ambush.

    So make of that what you will.

  • JParsons

    Some of Paramounts guidelines are potentially problematic such as the time limit on the shows, and the inability to raise funds on sites like Kickstarter. Hopefully these are only an opening and subject to negotiation.

    • Those are not Paramount’s guidelines. Those are Peter’s proposed guidelines. He thinks he has a say in all of this and seems to forget that he is the douche nozzle that created this mess.

      • Laura Anne Seabrook

        so it’s still in negotiation then?

      • 1SmartShopper

        Exactly. Read my comment above. JJ must have been suckered into believing Peters BS. And I thought Abrams was a smart guy….

    • Samuel Sitar

      free speech lets you raise money that way. business cannot interfere with federal law.

  • Josh Wilder

    Ok, some of those make sense, like the disclaimer, SAG and even the licensing, but come on, the time restriction and the crowdfunding restriction are just not fair, they’re shooting future fan productions in the foot, and doing more harm to the honest fanfilm crews then to the people who actually are trying to illegally make money off the property. From the start I’ve supported Axanar in this whole mess, but now they’re giving up too much.

    • Shank

      Peters has stated he did not want a provision against crowdfunding, but others in the discussion pushed him to give that up. Keep in mind it doesn’t prevent someone from raising money by donations or through non-commercial crowdfunding projects.

      • 1SmartShopper

        Bullshit. He doesn’t want the competition.

  • JB

    Number 3 pretty much means we won’t be able to have many Star Trek fan-films in the future, or is an attempt to limit their production quality. It is also curiously contrary to Number 8, since they won’t want to use lower-production quality. The things that they might presumably want to use (STC or Axanar, for example) wouldn’t exist with these rules.

    Number 7 is a silly, somewhat onerous, and easily circumvented rule. If you want to make an hour and 45 minute Star Trek fan film, you just make two episodes. Encounter at Nearpoint Station I & Encounter at Nearpoint Station II.

    I don’t love the SAG stuff. That thing is a racket, but its not the worst part of the proposition.

    • Samuel Sitar

      feel free to use crowdfunding. stand up for free speech.

  • optimismprime

    Peters proposed guidelines seem to be solely designed to ensure nobody besides himself will ever be able to make Fan Films on the level of “real” independant films in terms of quality or scope once Axanar is done.

    The 50 minute runtime restriction might not be a problem for the episodic shows, and sure you can just release “movies” in multiple parts and tell a story of whatever length you deem apropriate for your work, but you have to break the flow and will never achieve “feature film” feel, but at best “2 Part Made-for-TV Movie”.

    Also, securing funding without the help of trusted crowdfunding platforms is practically impossible for any venture that isn’t already up and running, even if you have big name actors attached. Even if you find ways to get donations going in another way, you will lose a lot of exposure, and therefore potential funds, ensuring you will have to be WAY lower budget, and therefore production quality if you can get going at all.

    This just says to me “I’ve gotten a production company and studio out of piggybacking on established IP on top of making what could be the highest quality fan film ever produced, and i have to ensure that nobody will ever come close to this!”

    • 1SmartShopper

      You got it.

  • milojthatch

    I’m going to join in the chorus and say that number three is a death blow for 99% of the fan film population. I think a more sensible rule instead is to limit how much can be raised at a time per project.

    Rule number seven also sucks, but isn’t as bad as three. The rest are less crazy.

  • Shank

    Ya know… for close to 50 years, people have been making money illegally from Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry would go to a con, and walk past booth after booth of unlicensed t-shirts, replica props, for-profit fics, filks, zines, and the dealers who roamed the convention circuit like a gypsy caravan.

    Suddenly Axanar comes out, and half the fandom goes apeshit, as if millions upon millions in unlicensed profit haven’t already been made off Trek. It’s like someone zapped the memories of half the fan base. Paramount isn’t going after Axanar because some people got paid a pittance for their work. Don’t be stupid. It’s not going after them because these people rented a warehouse and called it a “studio” with some of their crowdfunding money.

    It’s because Axanar (and to a lesser extent Horizon), is a fan-made production that looks to have just as much potential quality as any studio-made project. For the first time, fans are making content that equals, and might even rival, the quality of the official produced material. THAT is why this lawsuit is happening, that’s why Paramount is scared.

    Yes yes yes yes, a thousand times yes. Alec Peters is the debil. He’s a flawed man with a temper. Because Trek has NEVER had any of those before right?

    It’s time to grow up, kiddies. Prelude to Axanar was too good, and Paramount is looking at a future fans with some money and a few good actors can be producing content that distracts from their for-profit ventures.

    They see a time when earnest fan productions make viewers decide they would rather watch that content than pay to see the younger, “edgier” crew on the big screen to pay-per-view media hubs. They see a time when they can’t just keep churning out crap fans will mindless wolf down because something better is out there.

    And, with typical hubris, plenty of Trek fans actually think this is about Trek. This is about EVERYTHING. Heck, go look at the My Little Pony fandom. Which had fan art, fan music, fan radio drama, fan parodies, fan animations… until one day… this guy came out with a little short 3-minute minisode that looked as good as the content, sounded as good, was as funny, as well acted… and guess what? C&D order from the company. Fan outrage. Studio relenting and putting out guidelines.

    Wake up and smell the gagh, people. This isn’t about earning a paycheck for making a fan film, and it’s not about how terrible Alec Peters is. It’s about the future, and the potential of fan productions not to make profit for themselves, but their ability to indirectly take away profit from the copyright holders. And that should be addressed. But let’s call a spade a spade. Axanar looks too good, and it scared Paramount.

    • Luv

      They should encourage quality product by rewarding it. Sign a contract, and let a good production put money in everybody’s pockets!

      • Samuel Sitar

        move law power from paramount to government.

  • The guidelines from Alec Peters are ridiculous. If you can’t put the Star Trek name on it, or give perks with Star Trek on it, then what’s the damn point of doing it at all? He just needs to step away and let Paramount do their thing with the fan films as THEY see fit. When did someone make him the new king and ruler of all fan films?

    • 1SmartShopper

      That’s what sociopaths do. He is scary.

  • I am not Herbert

    …yeah, *NO*.

    axamonitor is a HATER site

    …and that list is pure straw-man *TROLLING* =(

    Axanar would not presume to try to foist such B.S…. =(

    the author of this piece should get the story straight, OK? thanks… =(

  • Luv

    I don’t understand. How are independents supposed to raise money, if not through public mechanisms? Does CBS/Paramount seriously intend to hijack the fundraising process? Seriously?!

    Arbitrary time limits compromise a show’s quality. We’ve certainly seen that on mainstream television, as shows get sidelined by neverending commercials. That’s another condition that needs to go. Somebody wants to build something so good that it justifies extra length?

    Why is Tony Todd’s name crossed out, where it appears near the end of the article?

    • I am not Herbert

      Tony Todd is too expensive to be cast in the full feature, plus he got a better gig with a role in the new CBS-Trek! =)
      (I hope he’ll be a Klingon!)

  • Arron Bubba Ratcliff

    Basically those guidelines say i ran a scam on the fans to get the cash i needed to set up my own studio.So now i need to make sure no one else can do it as well..

    • I am not Herbert

      …you’re drinking the (axamonitor) troll’s kool-aid =(

      • Arron Bubba Ratcliff

        no idea what axamonitor is. and my opinion is based on my own observances.dude raised a bunch of money using Star Trek. He said him self in an interview on a pod cast none of his ideas were good enough to raise the kinda money he wanted to raise.When i first saw prelude i was stoked i couldn’t wait. but the wait kept going on and on and on and we saw nothing then there was one little scene on Vulcan then nothing again.Finally CBS/Paramount hit them with the law suit.The Axanar Facebook page tells you how he spent the fans money.He used it to making a for profit studio. sure axanar may have been free but all the money he raised using the star trek name and IP’s went into that studio that would then been use to make money.

        • I am not Herbert

          …like i said (but whatever…)

  • kenny18

    I want to let you all to know this that the name of Star Trek has no copyright with the name of Star Trek or enterprise, CBS and paramount never did there home work, not a thing in the socalled papers they can’t copy but new films. Anything they make I know that CBS and JJ will not. They just better. Look into this titel of 17, and title 34.

  • Christopher Dalton

    The very idea of Alec Peters being involved in the establishment of new fan film guidelines just only proves his hypocrisy. Especially after he threw the fan films under the bus in past interviews.

    Alec Peters violated the law by making a profit out of a Star Trek fan film)something that Paramount has made clear as a HUGE VIOLATION of the rules), committing fraud by using the donated funds for other purposes, and stealing CBS/Paramount’s IP address during the Axanar production among other illegal acts.

    Alec Peters and those involved in this scam of a Star Trek fan film need to be prosecuted to the limit of the law.

    The law is the law and it WILL be upheld.

    Sadly, it will also signal the end of Star Trek fan films.

    If fans can’t play nice in the sandbox and get too big for their britches, then they need to have their toys taken away from them.

  • David Swanson

    These works should be limited to 10 years and rollover to public domain as the story embeds itself into the cultural mindset. Mind you, some productions are not worthy even a month. It is just unswerving how long the vampire slurps off copyright were independent third party innovation may inject new life into an already dead beaten horse.

  • kenny18

    In no way you should go with those so called rules, what I have readed that the paramount stuido and CBS will take over your film and they will call it there’s and you will not see any part of your name of who worked on it real hard.
    As for both paramount stuido and CBS I never did here that they have drop the lawsuite,
    I want to see you to keep them under your hand and I know that you will Winn your case.

  • kenny18

    I also for got to say this as the rules for number 5,6,7?
    You need to look into this much better and as for my self I will not go for it at all. If you are getting free help you should not pay SAC for there work on your film. I will make sure that it should be your choice.

  • edjcox

    I propose the owners of the IP of Star Trek wok with the producers of Axanar to work together and finish the production and storyline and perhaps even produce a series dealing with the pre Enterprise time frame Axanar and ensuent battles and outcomes…. Make a deal (like they said in Kelley’s Heroes) Its best or all concerned and everyone walks away happy and Axanar gets finished…

  • kenny18

    I want to see the hard core proof? From you . I need to see it on paper, so far no one have put the proof on the Internet, I my self will stand with axanar on his

  • Samuel Sitar

    crowdfunding is allowed when done on personal time. this is a social that cannot be taken away. perks and incentives must be operated in the same way.

  • Can’t believe they would want to halt something such as Fan Films that do nothing but prolong and bring more attention to the franchise. If anything they should be thanking the fans and the fan films. Making petty moves like this against fans creates unnecessary animosity which could lead to lose in profit in future films by Paramont and CBS. Had they just left it alone odds are it would have only added to possible interest in future films. Fans are who come to see the movies why go against and create such distaste with the very people who have support the franchise in the past and with which they hope to continue to support in the future. Makes no sense wake up CBS and Paramont, do you want to maintain your old fans and create new ones or create animosity and lose them instead.

  • 1SmartShopper

    “Peters has reportedly reached out to other fan productions for their support of guidelines he wants Paramount and CBS to accept. These guidelines, among others things, include a marketing disclaimer in each piece of fan media; the rule that productions cannot sell Star Trek merchandise; and that fan productions cannot use Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other crowdfunding platforms. The full list of the proposed guidelines provided by Axamonitor below.”

    What a hypocrite. Peters now wants the new rules to say no future fan films can use Crowdfunding like Kickstarter or Indie GoGo, and to give perks, and sell things like he did for his films. He also paid himself a $40,000 salery form those crowdfunds as well paid his girlfriend and undisclosed amount form those funds. Wonder what else he bought and used the funds for? Oh that’s right, he built a profit making FILM STUDIO with the money. Sounds like he doesn’t want other fans to have the same amount of money received using those platforms, What a phony.